An important area of #JunkFreeInJune is about finding clarity around the direction we want to head in life. My BBB (Best Blogging Buddy), Leanne Le Cras from Cresting the Hill has recently been through a significant change in her life. She has been brave enough to leave a job that had a toxic working environment and is now slowing taking time to find out what she really wants. Although she loved her job, Leanne reveals how an unexpected job loss proved to be a Godsend.
I’m delighted that she is my guest for this week’s Over 50 & Thriving Series. Leanne shares how she is clearing the ‘junk’ from her mind and rediscovering herself. Don’t forget to pop over to Leanne’s blog to say ‘hello’ I’m sure she would love to hear from you.
How an unexpected job loss proved to be a Godsend
The perfect job
A few years ago I thought I’d finally been offered the “Perfect Job” – great hours, great pay, great workplace, the perfect fit for me in Midlife. The only problem was that the old saying “if it seems to be too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true” proved to be an “old saying” for a reason. I was told by another receptionist (after I started my job) that my employer paid well because they couldn’t keep staff. I scoffed at that initially and took it as jealousy on her part …..but ohhhh how right she was! The reason they couldn’t keep staff was because the lovely manager who employed me wasn’t as lovely as she appeared on the surface.
This woman was constantly in a mental and/or emotional crisis and poured it all out with no respect to any boundaries, every time I went to work. Actually, that’s not completely true – sometimes she was pleasant and fine – but those days tricked me into thinking she’d changed, and the bad stuff was behind her…. Then that bad stuff would return and my work-life kept swinging from high to low, with me never knowing what I’d be in for each week. It reached the point where I’d dread going in on Mondays, my chest would get tight as I turned the corner into work, and by the end of the day I’d have a migraine to take home with me. It was NOT the Perfect Job and I knew it couldn’t continue.
When you’ve sold your soul
It dawned on me that somewhere along the way I’d sold my soul to the god of money – that great hourly rate was what drove me to put up with the tears, tantrums, repetitive stories, outbursts, and other horrific behaviour that this woman thought was okay to share with me. I look back now and can’t believe some of the stuff that happened. A lot of it’s beyond belief and sharing it would be a breach of her privacy. In a nutshell, it made working there a living hell at times.
Long story short, one day her anger turned itself on me and something in me just snapped. It was the final straw and I handed in my resignation on the spot. Despite her request to reconsider, I worked out my 2 weeks’ notice and left that part of my life behind. It was a sudden (but not totally un-expected) ending to a job I’d hoped would see me through to retirement in my mid 60’s. I was left shattered and at a loss as to what to do next.
Getting my Mojo Back
I realized that I’d lost so much of myself over those last few years. My life had been reduced to going to work, recovering from work, enjoying two days of freedom, and then returning to repeat the cycle. The day I walked out of the office for the last time was the beginning of a whole new and unexpected phase of life. It took me several weeks to wind down, to stop thinking about whether I could have done it differently, and to realize that leaving was the best decision I could have made for my mental and emotional health.
My next thought was “What am I going to do with all this extra spare time?” Fortunately, I only worked part-time, so I didn’t have a whole week to fill, but I worried that I’d be sitting around being bored and watching daytime TV to fill in the days. The surprising thing was that this hasn’t happened. It’s been 4 months since I left that toxic workplace behind and every day has been a joy. I’m never bored, I’m never at a loss with filling my time, the days go by at a lovely relaxing pace and I’m happy – I actually can’t believe how happy I am these days. I even find it hard to remember how horrible things were previously now that I’ve recovered from it.
I’ve blogged about a lot of this journey towards possible retirement. I’ve asked “What’s Next?”, wondered if it’s okay to stop working while I’m still in my 50’s, and written about all the questions that have churned in my head since this unexpected turn of events. I’m so used to having a plan for every eventuality and this is such a change of pace for me. Previously I’d have been looking around for a new job, reading the Job Vacancies, cold calling, or sending out emails to potential employers. This time I’m not doing any of that. I’m just taking time for myself. For the first time in 40 years I’ve stopped “doing” and I’m focusing on “being” instead – and it’s delightful!
In the process of coming to grips with this upheaval, I’ve read a lot of other blog posts about acceptance, letting go, and moving on. I particularly love Marc and Angel Hack Life because their inspirational thoughts and posts speak directly to my heart at the moment. They look at life changes so positively and I share their quotes on my Facebook Page regularly (I counted at least 7 of them since I left work!) A particular favourite is this one:
What I’ve discovered
I think the biggest take away I have from this journey so far is that it’s not okay to stay somewhere that’s toxic just because it’s what you think you “should” do. When it comes down to it, what you “should” do is look after yourself. Don’t let hitting rock bottom be your motivation for moving on because the recovery takes so much longer when you’re sucked dry and feel like a husk. Instead, be proactive, trust yourself and what your soul is trying to tell you, step up, make the change you know is needed, and prepare yourself for a new chapter.
I was offered the opportunity to withdraw my resignation twice – I very nearly stayed and played safe (better the devil you know) but in hindsight it would have been an appallingly bad decision to have stayed in that awful environment. Having the courage to leave and to not let money dictate to me was so liberating. Opening my eyes to the fact that I can live life on my own terms – not on what our materialistic world tells me – was a big step forward. All I can say is that so far I’m loving this new life choice. Maybe one day I’ll look for another job, or add some more volunteering, or study something, or who knows what? But for now I’m just happy to “be” and you can’t ask for more than that can you?
Leanne lives in the beautiful SW of Western Australia. She has two adult children who have grown and flown, married, and settled in the city. Her empty nest consolation prize is two delightful grandgirls to keep her young and on her toes. Other than that, she spends way too much of her spare time blogging about the highlights of Midlife at Cresting the Hill and shares the rest of her leisure time with her husband and two cats.